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The Great Outdoors
March, 2021 - Issue #197
After so much recent turmoil, I was delighted to see many Claritans coming together to demand fairness for all. Regardless of age, gender, race or creed, they spoke with one united voice: Empty our green waste barrels! Yes, alas, it seems a minor inconvenience in trash pick-ups was more successful at bringing Claritans together than any ideology, values or cause. After coronavirus-related staffing shortages, Waste Management temporarily reduced green waste emptying to every other week - and customers were riled. Contributing to their dismay, I think, was an early case of spring fever. With many January days in the 70s and 80s, people were paying attention to landscaping they'd normally postpone another month. The message behind the barrel bummer is that residents want to get outside as much and as soon as possible.
"Their Facebook group recently surpassed 2,000 members, demonstrating how many Claritans are EAGER to help continue work into spring."

Prayer Al Fresco
Some Claritans kicked off 2021 beneath the starry heavens. Sam Feucht, described variously as Christian missionary, activist, writer and musician, held a "Let Us Worship" concert outdoors in the parking lot of a Santa Clarita church. Apparently, we weren't the first choice: The concert was supposed to take place in Azusa and moved on rather short notice. The event was intended to celebrate keeping the faith in these difficult times. Over 2,000 people attended, including many visitors from beyond the valley.
Officials were concerned about the large gathering and advised attendees to wear masks and socially distance themselves. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger issued a carefully-worded statement that celebrated religious freedom while also asking for that freedom to be enjoyed as conscientiously as possible. Attendees were mixed in how seriously they abided these recommendations. Any other year, a Christian concert in a church parking lot probably wouldn't be the most attended event of New Year's Eve, but for 2021, it was the biggest party in town. As for spreading COVID-19? We've had a few weeks since then to watch, but amid already surging cases, it's been tough to discern the effect.

Outdoors their own Way
People like to do their own things outdoors, and Santa Clarita usually has a place for whatever their particular affinity might be. Trek Bike Park, in the hills by the George Caravalho Santa Clarita Sports Complex, is the newest place for Santa Clarita's BMX and mountain bike communities to get outside. City Manager Ken Striplin highlighted some recent improvements to the trails and courses, most of which are just a few months old. He emphasized the fact that mountain biking is an inherently socially-distanced activity. That's nice enough, but I think an even grander health benefit of the bike park is that it will attract mountain bikers off other trails. And that means SCV hikers might be less apt to be run over.
An even more niche way to enjoy the outdoors is cleaning them. A group called "Beautification of Bouquet Canyon Falls" has been scrubbing graffiti paint off rocks and picking up trash to bring out the natural beauty of the no-longer-neglected falls area. Their Facebook group recently surpassed 2,000 members, demonstrating how many Claritans are eager to help continue work into spring.

In Bloom
When wildflowers appear, it's almost impossible to stay indoors. Who can resist getting outside to see all those beautiful flowers on the screen of your phone as you take selfie after selfie, proving to your friends that you really do hike? Predicting whether it will be a good year is something of an art. In his book on California wildflowers, Richard Minnich advises that the best flowering occurs in the first wet year after a multi-year drought. That's not exactly 2021, but don't give up hope entirely.
SCV's uninitiated nature seekers should keep three other rules in mind. First, check early and often - a lot is already in bloom and the main show will fade by April as many plants go to seed. Second, stroll instead of hike. Most wildflowers are quite small, so pause, squint and hunch over to discover what the power walkers have missed. Third, don't expect endless vistas of orange poppies like in the desert. Weather and topography vary throughout Santa Clarita such that it's not one big show so much as dozens of small ones. And that's dozens of reasons to heart SCV's outdoors.
This column is intended as satire and a (sometimes successful) attempt at humor. Suggestions and catty comments intended for the author can be e-mailed to iheartscv@insidescv.com.
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